Well the heatwave seems to be over with us for the moment, and this morning there was a little moisture in the air. No rain though. Just as well really as we had another school visit booked for this morning.
This was our second school from the Edinburgh region, just a little way down the motorway really, and they easily arrived for ten o’clock. We’re starting to get into a pattern that suits most with the schools now, and began their visit with a short guided tour ‘Walk to the North Pole’. The children were primary 4 age and so were pretty clued up on the need for camouflage, food chains, and taking care of the environment topics. It was nice to get some thoughtful questions from the children and well thought out answers to my questions too.
Finishing at the ‘North Pole’ the children then had some time to explore the owl centre as they looked for the answers to ‘Professor Hoot’s Tough Test’ on the information boards and in our education zone. After all that running about and thinking they were ready for a sit down and so met up with us in our indoor display arena. We flew some of the trained owls for them with more good questions and answers throughout. We had some other visitors in at the same time and they seemed to enjoy the session as much as the children did.
The afternoon was quieter, not just because the school children had left to go back to school! We had a steady flow of visitors and Poncho the Tropical Screech Owl made an appearance in one of the afternoon shows. The contrast between this tiny owl and then Hudson the Great Horned Owl was quite something and the audiences were fascinated. It’s nice to have Poncho in the team now and he is proving to be a pretty steady and good natured owl, happy to be in the shows and to have his photo taken with the public.
We usually feed the collection in the afternoon and while volunteers Karen and George were taking the feed buckets around today I heard a familiar sound coming from the Ashy Faced Owl aviary. Were my ears deceiving me, or was that the sound of an owlet? Hmm. Well with a few people to act as witness we were pretty sure we did indeed hear the tell-tale hissing made by babies of the Barn Owl family to which the Ashy Faced belong. The male had taken food straight up to the nest the second it hit the floor of the aviary and passed it to his mate. She began to rip it up into pieces small enough for tiny beaks to swallow, and this was when we were hearing the owlet noises.
I’m hesitant to get too excited about the prospect of owlets here after such a run of bad luck so far this season. This pair have been reliable breeders in previous years though, so should be steady enough to keep looking after their young. The Ashy Faced Owl is probably the most endangered owl in collections in the UK so this makes them the main target species for us to breed. I’ll keep my excitement reigned in for a day or two as I don’t want to be disappointed with such an important species for the centre.
I’ll leave you tonight with a up to date picture of our two Great Horned Owlets, taken this afternoon with my shiny new camera. Enjoy, and good night!